You want water? Any problem sir? You want to go sight-seeing? Imagine the quintessential Delhi autorickshaw driver speaking with you like this. Seems unbelievable? Soon it won’t be. Thanks to the manner-training being imparted to the auto-drivers by trainers from Haryana Institute of Public Administration (HIPA) in the run up to the Commonwealth Games 2010.
Over 8,000 auto rickshaw drivers in the Capital are getting lessons in ‘work skills and personality development’ through sessions and specially designed instructions manuals. The drivers are also being taught to give attention to personal hygiene — ‘have a fresh face, clean feet, clean fingernails and a smiling face’.
HT City spoke to some auto drivers who seemed happy that such a training will make them ‘hip’. Dharmender Kumar, an auto driver from Nehru Place says, “I anyway carry a water bottle in my auto all the time, if the passenger feels thirsty. And I patiently wait if the sawaari wants me to. Now through this training, I can learn English.”
Another auto driver, Brijesh Prasad, says, “It is very good for us. We can get good business from foreigners. Now I can also show my kids that I can speak fluent English.”
Rajni Sibal, director HIPA says, “Our manuals include courses on personal hygiene, postures, safe driving and simple words and simple sentences to know. We also give them audio CDs to practice at home.” However, Delhiites are sceptical. Says Abhinav Sharma, a student, “I think what the auto drivers need is a lesson in honesty, rather than manners. You wouldn’t want them to cheat foreigners with a sweet tongue. And who will teach them to go by the meter and not overcharge?”
The comments of the auto drivers have been translated from Hindi.